If you have visitors planning a trip to Prague or the Czech Republic in the distant future, this news will affect you: as of 2021 Americans and other non-EU citizens visiting any of the 26 Schengen Zone countries will need to register for ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) pre-authorization.
Registry requires an email account, a valid passport and a credit or debit card; upon approval ETIAS authorization will be valid for 3 years.
The EU announced the measure in July 2018, citing the need for improved security and the restriction of “illegal migration and terrorism” as the primary cause for its ETIAS requirement.
Unfortunately, a bit of confusion has cropped up surrounding the issue after multiple news outlets recently reported that Americans would soon need a “visa” to go on a European holiday.
The European Union in the US was quick to point out via Twitter that the ETIAS is in fact not a visa.
The ETIAS is pre-travel screening similar to what Czechs who wish to travel to America must apply for.
With regards to the Czech Republic, the Schengen Visa Info page writes:
“From 2021, ETIAS EU will be a legal requirement for citizens of eligible countries entering the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic Visa Waiver will allow non-EU travelers to enter the country for periods of up to 90 days within a 180-day duration.”
It goes on to say that to successfully obtain a European visa waiver for the Czech Republic, applicants must complete the ETIAS application form and meet some basic ETIAS requirements for the Czech Republic .
“On the ETIAS for the Czech Republic application it is necessary to enter passport details and some basic information such as name, address, and date of birth, and to answer some basic security and health-related questions.”
ETIAS applicants are screened before the approved Czech Republic ETIAS visa is sent to the applicant by email. The details provided in the application are cross-checked against various databases including Interpol’s.
Schengen Visa Info has a handy FAQ page as does the European Commission.